Florida Weekend Part 1 (January 29, 2011)

Months of gray skies, cold winds, and bone-chilling temps led Anne and I to make a last-minute decision to run to Florida for a long weekend. For once, we hit the jackpot of good weather with sun and daily temps around 70 (which means 80 in the Florida sun).

I didn’t get nearly enough photos from our trip, but here’s the first of three parts, one for each day. We flew in late on Friday night and spent the night at Mike’s. Between his yard, his new yard, and Sawgrass, we totaled at least 46 species on the first day with highlights including Limpkin, two Broad-winged Hawks, and a Hermit Thrush!

Mike and Lucy hugging one of the interesting trees on their new property in Driftwood (Strangler Fig strangling a Live Oak)
View of St. Pete harbor looking towards the new Dali Museum
Market in St. Pete
St. Pete Harbor with Monkey Puzzles at Demens Landing on the right
The Pier!
Gopher Tortoise at Sawgrass! These guys are very happy that the Florida boom finally hit the wall.
Bees using a nest box as a hive
Common Moorhen (COMO) bathing and stretching
Check out those huge COMO feet!
Anhinga (ANHI) stretching out in the sunlight - these birds, named for their snake-like necks, dive for fish and other aquatic food and then hop up on logs to dry off.
Uh oh - a Garter Snake has caught this Tree Frog (exact species unknown). We heard an incredibly loud sound not unlike that of the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (BGGN). After some serious searching, we finally spotted this snake with the leg of a tree frog in its mouth.
Another shot of the struggle between snake and frog
Tree frog letting out a cry as the snake tightens its grip...
Tree frog appears to be trying to climb out of the snake's mouth.
Continuing mortal struggle of the tree frog and garter snake
Continuing mortal struggle of the tree frog and garter snake
That tree frog was trying to find leverage anywhere, and that snake was writhing around, doing anything it could to try to do the same to the frog, to prevent escape.
At this point, after several minutes, the tree frog had stopped calling out and the snake appeared to be gaining on his prey. At this point, we moved along. Fifteen minutes later, after returning to the spot, both snake and frog were nowhere to be found.
Limpkin in the distant channel
Forster's Tern perched
Caspian Tern (CATE) flying over Sawgrass
A very large Softshell Turtle swimming at Sawgrass.
Another large turtle, this time an Alligator Snapper!
Common Moorhens all over the place
Blue-headed Vireo (BHVI), a bird I haven't seen since early fall, was not only seen at several locations around St. Pete, but was also frequently heard calling.
BHVI
BHVI
Hermit Thrush (HETH) in the brush
Easten Phoebe (EAPH)
Another Gopher Tortoise
Gopher Tortoise in the grass
Another angle of a Gopher Tortoise which I shot by squatting really low. In hindsight, I wish I hadn't because it attracted the attention of a woman who went over with her camera and got within five feet of the guy, scaring him into his burrow.
American Alligator sunning - this guy was probably twelve feet long, which looks pretty darn long sitting on the grass, but in reality is pretty average around Florida.
Some snags in the swamp
ANHI sitting in a tree
Osprey (OSPR), the most common bird in Florida
OSPR
A Florida orange, growing in the woods
Another shot of an orange - which Anne wanted me to photograph
Red-breasted Merganser in a canal

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